Journal of Organizational Behavior

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Volume 27 Issue 1 (February 2006), Pages 1-109

“If you treat me right, I reciprocate”: examining the role of exchange in organizational survey response (pages 19-35)


Survey nonresponse can pose a major threat to the generalizability of organizational survey findings. This paper examines whether organizational members' evaluations of their organizational experiences affect survey response to organizationally sponsored surveys. In particular, we hypothesized that perceived organizational support, social exchange, procedural justice and an individual's inclination to feel exploited in social relationships predicted organizational members' compliance with organizations' requests for survey completion. A longitudinal field experiment conducted in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research at a large university (sample: n = 622 university students) supported the hypotheses. Organizational members who consciously decided to not participate in organizational surveys perceived their organization as less procedurally just and less supportive. They also reported negative perceptions of their social exchange relationship with their organization, and were more inclined to feel exploited in relationships. Hence, an exchange‐oriented theoretical framework grounded in organizational citizenship behavior theory seems appropriate for the study of survey nonresponse. Implications for survey practice include that survey‐based findings are unlikely to generalize to specific groups of nonrespondents, and that techniques commonly used to increase response rates may not be effective in reaching these groups of nonrespondents. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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